Hi! My name is Adam Pham, who started as a Free Local Guide and opened a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) known as Hanoi Free Local Tours.

I would love to share with you my opinion on tipping for Free Walking Tour in Hanoi, or Free Tour Guides from all almost free tour organization (in Vietnam).

Free Walking Tours become very popular all around the world when people can pay for what they use, pay for how they feel and sometimes how much they have!

The Free Walking tours normally working on tip-based, to help the “Tour Guides” out with the money for the good-jobs after showing travelers things they would not know without a local guide.

The same goes for Vietnam, you will have someone taking you around to the hidden places, enjoy the good but cheap foods that you haven’t known before, tell you the interesting stories that are not mentioned in travel books.

But, that’s all!

Vietnam is totally different! And we have more!

CHECK OUT Hanoi Tours to explore the charming of free tours in Hanoi!

The guides are not the professors or professional guides expecting the tip for their living!

The original aim of being a guide is totally different, in Hanoi or even in the whole of Vietnam, the free tour guides are normally local university students (90%). And either to us! (I would love to say “us” because I myself did have been a free guide for long with my friends)

We are looking for the chance of improving our language skills, (the cost of the English center in Vietnam is SUPER Expensive, we need to learn to have better lives, but we do not have money to do so).

We do it!

After doing the free tours, we know that not only Language skills, but also soft skills are that we can improve together with other country cultures that hardly can we learn from books, teachers or any TV shows.

That is why many of my friends express confidently in English interview of the international companies (like Samsung, Co-ca-co-la, Pep-si) after meeting many travelers in the world,

That is why lots of my Hanoi Free Local Tours members have a scholarship studying abroad because they have their own stories of what that did to overcome themselves!

The free tour in Vietnam is different!

But, after several years, things have changed!

In Hanoi, there was a free tour organization taking the Australian Prime Minister to the Temple of Literature of Hanoi.

In Hanoi, there was a free tour guide talking to the Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism Malaysia around the old quarter!

I do think that there is no free tour guide organization in the world who can do so!

But in Hanoi we did!

After several years, a large number of travelers visit Vietnam and bring a different view!

They bring money and use money as a TIP which has never been in the guides’ brain before being the guide!

This is good, so good somehow! But I will show you why you should not TIP and never tip for these free walking tour guides!

2. The reasons for not tipping?

Your money can destroy the original aim of being a free student guide.

The same as your countries, students in Vietnam also have a part-time job to earn and to learn! They get from 1 to 2 USD/hour.

But when doing the free tours, normally travelers tipped 10-20 USD/3 hours (3 times higher), and some travelers staying in luxury hotels tipped 50-100 USD/hours!


The money they get does not reflect the guides’ ability totally, this reflects your culture and reflects how rich you are! And, absolutely, it reflects how much you love the guide.

But the guides might gain very bad habits, they might forget the original aim because of the easy money.

In the Organisation meeting, they do not discuss how to improve language skills, what they learn from the tour, they talk to each other about how much they got.

They share the experience on how to get the luxury guests based on the name of the hotel they stay and reject the hostel ones or even travelers from the no-tip culture (Like Japan).

I did see many people who graduated as a bachelor on (Marketing on Finance, on IT) from universities do not spend time learning and working for what they were dreaming of!

They are still the free tour guides looking for Luxury Travelers with the high tip! (After many how-to-get-high-tip discussions), they do not take an official job, they do not learn to be a professional guide for a traveling company, they do not have necessary skills except for high-tip-get-one. They waste the chance of other students looking for an opportunity of improving themselves.

This did happen!

So do not tip, I will be much happier seeing our guides getting the 100% scholarship studying abroad, working for a good company at the position that they have the real passion for, even this may take them tons of effort in the beginning.

But, the tip is good, again, this reflects the guides’ ability, reflects how much you love them!

You should tip as your cultural habits but in different ways.

I do believe that my recommendation for the alternatives will keep the original aim, keep the free tour guides in Vietnam different from other countries and motivate these student guides!

3. What is the alternative for (Walking Tour Tip)

  • A typical gift from your countries to express the culture
  • A book that you love to motivate the guides
  • A sweet bar of chocolate or delicious cake!

That is enough! Thanks! Please

You have more chances to discover the destination your way, avoid shopping stops and take part in your favorite activities if you contact us – LOCAL OPERATORS! We are happy to help you in any case!